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Ministering to the Mind

How has your Monday been going?  Are you feeling better today than you were yesterday?

If so, great!

If not, why?

Let me take a guess at it. Yesterday, you were feeling a little bit down from either missing someone, being discouraged from one disappoint after another or receiving some not so good news and some how you muscled up the energy to make your way to church.

Although you didn’t have the energy to participate in praise and worship, it felt good just hearing the praise team or choir sang some of your favorite songs.

You could not figure out why your mind and body would only allow you to be a mere spectator when you enjoy singing and dancing unto the LORD.

As I discussed in my previous blog post, even Christians can find themselves in a state of depression. But what do you do? How do you handle it?

Perhaps the praises that went on around you were seeds planted to give you the courage to ask a minister for prayer during altar call or after the pastor preached his empowerment message.

Maybe you remained in your seat because you were too ashamed to confess your present needs. Did any one notice you were not yourself? Did any one reach out to you before you left?

Let’s say you were approached by someone or you did ask for prayer. I trust that you received an invitation to communicate with God. When Christians are going through a rough time, it is very comforting to know that God is always available to talk to.

But what else did the minister or concerned church member offer you? If prayer was the only thing, this could be why you are feeling the same way today.

God wants to minister to every aspect of your life. The mind is one of the most imperative areas that needs to be attended to. As I discuss and state in my book of mental health memoirs, it is unfortunate that a lot of ministers are not trained in counseling or mental health issues.

Even so, “a trained minister would know that whether or not he or she does not have the expertise in helping someone does not mean they are not obligated to help connect the person to resources” (Hastings, 2017 p.19).

You can have faith and still deal with disorders such as anxiety, bipolar, depression and even suicidal ideation. You just have to come into the full knowledge about what God says about you and the temporary or chronic disorders you find yourself experiencing. God does not want us to be ignorant in such matters: “For in all thy getting, get understanding” (Proverbs 4:7).

I do pray that your day gets better. If you need a little push on how to do the work to make it better, I encourage you to try the Faith Master Mind Coaching program. You do not have to do this alone and you don’t have to be ashamed.

Break the barrier today!

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How to Handle Depression as a Christian

If you were asked right now on the scale of 1-10 with 10 representing extreme depression or sadness, what would your honest response be?

Your answer would be contingent on a number of factors.

For instance, the kind of day you are having. Whether or not you are in the middle of a crisis. And how you are effectively managing your stress.

If you were asked right now on the scale of 1-10 with 10 representing your level of faith, what would be your response?

Which question did you find most easy or difficult to answer?

I’ll help you out.  Most Christians are not reluctant to verbalize their faith level, even if it is not above 5.  But when it comes to faith believers acknowledging their level of depression, this is an admission that is not quickly confessed.

Why?

One reason is because the admission of mild or severe depression seems to coincide with an admission there is a lack of faith. And who is the judge and jury that you are concerned will find you guilty of such a charge?

People. Supposedly other Christians.

God does not hold such criticism against His people.  Jesus understands that we are human with real emotions. The Savior knows that His followers, His believers encounter the real struggles of life that can cause one to experience moments and even seasons of depression.

So how do Christians handle being depressed?

First by acknowledging feelings of depression without feeling guilty or ashamed.  If you are too busy trying to hide the fact that you are having extreme feelings of sadness, then you are not able to address your unhealthy mood.  You may not be ready to acknowledge your feelings openly to someone else, but you have to be honest with yourself and feel free to talk to the One who already knows about it.

“Why are you cast down, O my soul? And why are you disquieted within me? Hope in God, for I shall yet praise Him for the help of His countenance” (Psalm 42:5)

God already knows how you feel. And can you imagine how relieved you would feel talking to someone who already knows and understands? Depressed feelings can cause one to isolate from God. But you do not have to create an island from God.

When you are feeling lonely you need to seek after God and not run away from Him. God wants you to have a spirit of joy and not of heaviness. This is a major step in handling your feelings of depression. Go ahead and make the step towards your restoration.

You are not alone.

 

How to Get Released Out of Your Situation

The thing about holidays or celebrations is that they do come to an end. And regardless of how we had to pretend or struggle to get through them, the aftermath places us back into our realities.

The reality is that if you were feeling some type of way before this past weekend, the reason did not disappear today.

The reality is that if you were in a critical situation before this past weekend, more than likely, your circumstances have not changed.

If you chose to temporarily escape from your crisis by dressing it up, pretending it didn’t exist or traveling to a place where no one knows who you are does not change the reality that you have to face today.

And what exactly is your reality?

You have found yourself in a place where you seem stuck, trapped and in a pit.

It is a type of situation where you have reached out and it seems like no one can help you. You have tried everything and nothing seems to be working. Yet, some how you have to muscle up enough energy to get this day started and get through it.

You are running out of options.  There seems to be nothing else left to try. You are barely hanging on by a thread and it is the beginning of the week.

What do you do?

SURRENDER.

Surrender by accepting that there are somethings that you can not avoid or keep from happening. Embrace the fact that somethings are beyond your control.

But even so, there is still a reason for your current circumstances.

You see, it is so easy to search for external outlets to solve our problems because we have been utilizing them for so long.  People and resources are great support tools to use. But we were not created or designed to use them as our primary source for strength or help.

Your release is in your relationship with God, your Creator. Only He can fill the void that you have. Only God can use His Holy Spirit to guide you to the resources you need right now.

You do not have to keep trying to keep the lid on all the pressure you are consumed with. Release it through prayer and praise!

When the prophet Jonah was in a very similar or more intense situation, he prayed to God while physically trapped inside of a whale (Jonah 2). God released Jonah from his situation after he prayed to God while trapped inside of a large fish.

It might seem as though something as simple as prayer will not help you right now. But you have to trust that the God who created you knows exactly what you need right now and He can release you the same way He released Jonah.

Perhaps it has been awhile since you prayed and you don’t know where to start. God in His complexity is able to receive in simple forms. Just tell Him exactly how you feel right now. Trust me, He knows and understands. The confession is good for your soul.

If you need help, I will gladly pray for you. Feel free to post your requests or to contact me. You do not have to stay trapped. Your release is just a prayer away!

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God’s Love Preserved Jonah

May 14, 2017 Sunday School Commentary

Lesson Guide, Direction

God’s Love Preserved Jonah

Devotional Reading: Psalm 116:1-14 ; Highlighted Text –  Jonah 2

Key Verse –  “But I will sacrifice unto thee with the voice of thanksgiving; I will pay that that I have vowed. Salvation is of the LORD” (Jonah 2:9).

On this Mother’s Day, I pondered about how mothers can relate to the story of Jonah? As mothers, we can get so consumed in our daily responsibilities that also include the demands of others than our children that we do not foresee the wave of chaos coming towards us. Our attention can be so distracted that we fail to consistently set aside time to spend with God. Then when God sends something to hinder us from continuing our exhausting routines we take the time to pause and ask Him for help, healing and strength. Why? Because the thing that God sends is similar to what He used to get Jonah’s attention when he was abandoning his primary assignments and responsibilities. God knows how to abort our course and position us back in the right direction. Everyone and everything will try to pull us in different directions as mothers, but we must always remember that we can not accomplish anything without seeking after God first.

Jonah’s Predicament (Jonah 2:1)

The previous chapter consisted of Jonah running away from God and being held captive by a large fish that God sent. In the beginning of chapter two, Jonah’s situation is critical because he is trapped inside of the large fish. Have you ever found yourself suffocating in a dark and tight place with no possibility of escape? God will position us in situations where no one else can help us and we are forced to cry out to Him. This is what Jonah did. He prayed to God like never before.

Point to Ponder:  Have you tried calling upon the name of the LORD in your current tight situation?

 Jonah’s Prayer (Jonah 2:2-8)

These verses give us a description of Jonah’s prayer and his suffering. It is not easy and definitely not comfortable for Jonah to pray inside of the belly of the fish. He has to press beyond his fears, his entanglements and even his sins. He has to make a sacrifice unto God. But Jonah trusts that the LORD is hearing his prayers and that God will deliver him from the situation that he himself caused.

Point to Ponder: Do you trust that God hears your voice even in this situation?

Jonah’s Praise and Preservation (Jonah 2:9-10)

Jonah not only prays to God, but he also praises God in advance before God delivers him. He makes a vow, a promise to God to fulfill his obligation. Jonah repents. And remember that God knew the heart of Jonah; therefore, Jonah could not just say anything to get him out of his dark place. God knew that Jonah’s heart was repentant. God spoke to the fish and it released Jonah  and God also delivered him out of his mental distress.

Point to Ponder:  Is God waiting on you to fulfill a promise or obligation to Him?

Prayer

Father God, we thank you for reminding us of your love that preserves us. As mothers, as fathers as leaders, as everyday people we can easily find ourselves running away from or becoming distant from our responsibility to you due to all the chaos we allow in our lives. God touch our hearts and remind us that the uncomfortable places we have found ourselves in is just you chasing after us to get our attention. Let us honestly repent and make a vow to complete the assignment you have given to us. And LORD, we thank you for also comforting every motherless person on today. Those that are heavily grieved remind them that you have not sent a fish to hold them captive in their grief, but you have sent your Son and the Holy Spirit to comfort any loneliness and heal any brokenness. It is in JESUS name we lift this prayer, Amen.

Commentary by, Minister Shulanda Hastings

    Senior Ministry Leader

Spirit Realm Divine Manifestation Ministries

Mending Mother Relationships

As Mother’s Day approaches, there are a lot of mixed emotions. This day set aside to recognize and honor mothers can be filled with excitement, resentment and sadness.

Do you have a great relationship with your mother?

Is your relationship with your mother broken?

Are you missing your mother because she is no longer here?

Regardless of the category that speaks to you, I strongly encourage you to listen to my podcast on Soulful Sessions with Ambassador Shulanda, “Mending Mother Relationships”.  Feel free to post your comments!

Will You Start the Conversation?

Have you ever walked into a room that was new territory for you and felt like a large elephant? This is not an unusual feeling.

But have you ever felt like an outcast among people you socialize with everyday or at least on a weekly basis?

Some sensitive topics have become easier to discuss around complete strangers than those we know very well.

Why do you think this is the case?

One reason could be that we feel like we would be judged or criticized less by people who do not know anything about us.

Mental illness is one of these sensitive topics that people feel more comfortable to discuss with complete strangers. This includes professionals or random people.

Today, is Green Ribbon Day and the purpose is to “change minds about mental health, one conversation at a time”.

In order to break mental health barriers, the silence has to be broken. It cannot remain an elephant in the room. We cannot observe those we see or communicate with on a regular basis to continue hurting from mental disorders.

Help is available.

We cannot help if we are afraid to talk about it.

I charge you today to start a conversation about mental health with someone you know. It only takes one person to start a conversation and another one to keep it going. Will you be the transmitter?

Click here for more information on Green Ribbon Day.

What Are You Craving?

Anyone who knows me know that I have a unique craving for cotton candy. Yes, cotton candy!

I don’t know exactly why, but I do know that fasting or trying to go cold turkey hasn’t worked.

But hey, everything should be done in moderation, right?

We know how our bodies more so our minds crave certain foods.  But what about our emotional cravings?

Have you ever paid attention to your emotional cravings?

Do you recall the last time you felt feelings of emptiness, loneliness, or sadness?

Life events can cause us to have these emotions.  When children leave the nest, feelings of emptiness surface.  When relationships end, feelings of loneliness can manifest. When we lose a loved one, feelings of sadness can occur.

These emotions are signals that we are missing something and we have cravings to fulfill them. Often we try to substitute them with the wrong things.  We do this because we are unsatisfied in certain areas and seek to satisfy our cravings.

Beth Moore describes it this way in the anthology, A Woman and Her God:

“If we don’t find satisfaction with God, we will look for it somewhere else. When we do, we default to one of two things: subsistence living or substitute living” (2003, p.9).

Have you ever tried quenching your thirst with something other than water or liquids? Even if we try to hydrate our bodies with a drink other than water, it will not produce the same results.

This same concept can be applied when we try to quench our emotional needs with those who cannot fulfill them.

We were created and designed to be in relationship with God. He provides a nourishment that no one else can. He satisfies our souls. When we try to get others to substitute for what was intended for God to do it will leave us frustrated, unsatisfied and always craving for something more.

When was the last time you allowed God to satisfy your craving?

He can satisfy us when we spend time with Him in prayer, worship and reading the Word. But we have to do it consistently and not when we are in a season of drought.

Do not continue to allow other things to be substituted for the real deal.

Guess what? Instead of that tempting bag of cotton candy that I normally crave, I am enjoying a nice protein smoothie that will provide me with what I need.

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